Springbok hooker Bongi Mbonambi is reportedly free to play in Saturday’s Rugby World Cup final against the All Blacks with a decision over the allegation he racially abused Tom Curry not expected anytime soon.
This will be seen as good news for the Springboks, who only have one specialist hooker at the tournament following the injury to Malcolm Marx. The Springbok team for the final is expected to be announced on Thursday.
According to reports, it is “highly unlikely” that the investigation into the incident will be concluded any time before the final.
The controversy erupted after last Saturday’s Rugby World Cup semi-final — won 16-15 by the Springboks — when England’s Curry alleged he had been called a “white c**t” by Mbonambi.
In audio, Curry can be heard saying to referee Ben O’Keeffe, “Sir, Sir, if their hooker calls me a white c**t, what do I do?”
O’Keeffe replied, “Nothing please... I will be on it.” World Rugby confirmed on Monday they would be investigating the incident.
However, in another video, moments before Curry approaches the referee, the Springbok hooker can be heard yelling “wyd kant” (wide side) or “wit kant” (white side) in Afrikaans.
On Wednesday, IOL Sport reported that in a major plot twist, the alleged racism incident stems from a heated Test match in November 2022 between the two teams.
World Rugby's chief communications officer Dominic Rumbles confirmed at a press briefing on Tuesday that the investigation into Bongi Mbomambi is still ongoing and that they don’t have a set time when it must be concluded.
Also on Wednesday, Curry’s club Sale Sharks released a statement condemning the abuse the loose forward was receiving on social media.
“'Sale Sharks' owners, players, coaches and staff are absolutely appalled by the nature and level of disgusting abuse directed at Tom Curry and his family in relation to an incident in the England v South Africa World Cup semi-final,” the club wrote on X, formely known as Twitter.
𝗖𝗟𝗨𝗕 𝗦𝗧𝗔𝗧𝗘𝗠𝗘𝗡𝗧 🦈— Sale Sharks 🦈 (@SaleSharksRugby) October 25, 2023
Sale Sharks’ owners, players, coaches and staff are absolutely appalled by the nature and level of disgusting abuse directed at Tom Curry and his family in relation to an incident in the England v South Africa World Cup semi-final.
Everyone at the… pic.twitter.com/f2faQg5KHb
“Everyone at the club stands fully and proudly behind Tom and we look forward to welcoming him back to Carrington.”
The Springboks will be looking to win back-to-back Rugby World Cup titles on Saturday when they face fierce rivals New Zealand at Stade de France.
England, on the other hand, will go up against Argentina in Friday’s third-place play-off.